There are plenty of people who are still struggling with the social media world, wondering should they jump in, how does it work etc. I thought it might be timely to give an update on my progress since I wrote about it back in July 2009.
I have been blogging since January 2006, almost five and a half years … which clearly doesn’t mean I’m any good at it, just that I have a lot to say! I also maintain an online presence in LinkedIn which is my primary tool for business social networking, and Twitter which I use to find and share useful articles/information and I have a Facebook account which I use almost exclusively for personal use. In fact lately I have been deleting more “friends” than I have been adding, not that I don’t like those people they just are not in my inner circle of friends that I share more personal “stuff” with.
Over these five years I have built up an understanding of what works for me, and what I expect from these various tools and the people that use them. Here are some thoughts:
- Social media tools are here to stay, and the sooner you get comfortable with them the better. Of course there were many holdouts when email was introduced and when mobile phones came along etc. so I expect the “holdouts” will continue for some time yet!
- People will tell you that you should develop a strategy for using social media based upon what you want from it … I would say you need to try it out before you decide what you want!
- As mentioned above I try to separate my personal use from the business use .
- I use the personal tool (Facebook) to keep up on news, pictures and interesting links from family and good friends around the world. It is amazing to see baby pictures from England, a friend’s new car in Australia or a new pet in Florida … all within a short space of time of the event.
- I use LinkedIn as a business networking tool, and generally I will connect with most people that request it … as long as their intent is to use it as a networking tool also. Part of the networking experience is the LinkedIn groups. These have some value, and I try to contribute to discussions every now and then … the results have been generally positive.
- Twitter is still a work in progress for me. I know I could be more efficient with it and will take some time out to learn a little more about available tools. Having said that, I am following some very interesting people who share their thoughts/articles/quotes etc. that bring me value. Hopefully I contribute as much as I get!
A few “dos and don’ts” to consider:
- Learn from your experiences … don’t just do it because everyone else is doing it.
- If you start to blog make sure it happens frequently enough … a “stagnant” blog that gets updated every blue moon is not a good message.
- Don’t mix work and pleasure … I really get confused when I see great business articles from somebody one minute and virtual world character play acting the next.
- Be thoughtful about your contributions … your words are “out there”, don’t say anything you are going to regret (or should regret … some people have trouble understand that they should be regretful).
- Start slowly and build up … watch and learn from others.
- Don’t just regurgitate “the party line” … the social media world is inhabited by real people with opinions and while you should never do anything to hurt your employer you should be yourself online.
- Consider that there is a time commitment to this stuff. It can consume you if you let it, but if managed well it is great way to create and nurture a lot of contacts, to share valuable information and to keep up on trends/news in your industry/in general/and personally!
- Many senior people have other people “ghost write” blog entries for them … it’s a means of getting an online presence. I have never done it, occassionally I have had guest bloggers but if someone is writing for you I think it is important that you understand what is being said and how … and are comfortable with it.
- You don’t have to recreate stuff yourself all the time, just pulling together a few things to share can bring a lot of value … for instance an industry association could find blog entries and articles around the world of interest to their members and share them on the industry association blog. That is a value add to the members.
- Remember that if you ask for, or get, feedback you should treat it as such. If you don’t agree with it that’s fine, but (as per #4 above) you don’t want to get drawn into name calling or an argument over opinions.
- Bottom line … your online presence is a big part of your personal brand. So what do you want YOUR personal brand to be?
PS. The dude on the computer is not me … despite what my close facebook friends might say!________________________________________________________________
Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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